Saturday, December 22, 2007

Adventures in High Altitude Cooking: Green Bean Casserole

This edition of Hight Altitude Cooking is about a typical North American holiday dish: The Green Bean Casserole. Here's how I went about creating this dish in the Andean city of Cusco.

1. Volunteer to make green bean casserole for the missionary community Thanksgiving because it's your favorite dish.
2. Discover that not only do they not have canned mushroom soup in Cusco but that French's Fried Onions cannot be found either.
3. Determine that it can indeed be accomplished without these modern North American conveniences!
4. Create your own fried onions in the following steps:

Number 1: slice onions very thinly and soak in milk

Number 2: dip or roll in flour

Number 3: deep fry the floury onions

Number 4: enjoy a fried onion that looks and tastes very much like the canned variety

5. Clean, cut and cook fresh green beans.
6. Mix beans with dry packets of mushroom soup, milk cream and milk (all the while hoping that you have the amounts correct).
7. Mix in some of your fried onions.
8. Fill a casserole dish, cook and cover with more of your labor-intensive onions 10 minutes before it's done.
9. Enjoy your green bean casserole and enjoy the comments of missionary kids who said it was their favorite dish!

Side Note: after cooking the casserole the mushroom thickened way more than I expected. Next time I'll use more milk than cream.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Celebrating Peruvian November Holidays

The first two days of November started with holidays! They do celebrate Halloween here but it's a little different than in the states. One thing that is different is that instead of going to homes, the kids go to stores looking for candy! Another difference is that they don't say "Trick or Treat" but "Halloween." The downtown was packed with kids trying to get candy out of business owners. I don't think I would like Halloween very much if I was a business owner!!

The holidays in November meant that we had the first two days off from school. The first day was the day of the dead and it was celebrated by eating pork and fancy breads in the shapes of horses and dolls. I actually didn't eat any pork that day but some delicious Peruvian chicken in Urubamba.

The second was a very long day (I think it was officially the Day of the Living) that started out with a teacher in service at the Shultz house. Our time together was mainly focused on discussing whether dictation was helpful in the classroom (it's very much overused here in Peru) and talking about our Christmas program. We ended our time together by watching "Facing the Giants."

After that many of us headed over to the TECHADO that was happening at the San Jeronimo church. A Techado is a literally a "Roofing" and it was just that! The second and third floors in the church were finished and it was time to put in the cement roof. This was a process that included lots of hands: mixing the cement, carrying or hoisting it to the third floor and pouring it. Of course we girls couldn't really help with the lugging of cement but we did help by cleaning up the second floor (it was covered with sawdust, wood scraps, nails and trash). That was a very exciting and tiring job that took a couple of hours!!!

The next thing that I did was go to a local "fair" with some of the other teachers. There were several rides that were maybe not that impressive but it was fun anyway. The greatest part was that the girl that I was riding with kind of freaked out and I had to keep assuring her that we would be okay: "It's okay! You are in the Lord's hands. He's gonna take care of you!" It was so funny!!

The night ended by a return to the church where the men were still working. When they finally stopped, we sat down and ate a special meal called: Chiriuchu. This meal is very interested because it is made up of a pile of various things, served cold:

1. a peice of chicken
2. a peice of cuy (guinea pig)
3. a pancake like bread
4. a peice of sausage
5. a peice of cheese
6. a seaweed like substance
7. fish eggs (not caviar - fish eggs)
8. toasted peices of corn

I got to help with the assembling process in the kitchen. It was so much fun to watch the ladies get so into piling on each item. It wasn't a bad dish (not necesarily good to eat at 9 pm) and I think the only thing I really didn't like was the fish eggs (not so much the taste but the texture and sense of popping when you ate it).

It was definitely a very interesting and exciting way to welcome in November!!

Blog Clog

Hi Friends! You may have noticed my sad lack of blog posts within the last two months. This was the result of busyness and emotional turmoil. Don't worry! Things are getting better and I have more time. We just had our end of year program at school yesterday! Last week was spent in organizing my room, cleaning glue and paint off chairs, tables and desks. It's hard to believe that the school year is over!!! What a fun adventure!

In any case, we are officially in our summer break right now. Classes don't start up again in March. yay! That means that I shall have time to update my blog. There should be several blog entries coming so don't miss any.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote of the year from one of my students.

"Este Miss Carrie es loca. Baila sin musica!"
(That Miss Carrie is crazy, she dances without music)

- Carlos Daniel, 5 yr old class - said to Miss Wendy (the Spanish kindergarten teacher)